What we think of today as “science” was called “natural philosophy” in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Benjamin Franklin and his fellow APS Members engaged in a variety of philosophical (scientific) endeavors, such as observing the transit of Venus, experimenting with electricity, and exploring uncharted territories.

Their discoveries had many practical uses. They also helped to counter the widespread belief that Americans were intellectually inferior to Europeans. The APS created important networks for its gentleman-scholars, and helped to spread their ideas and discoveries around the world.